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Three Lives in World War 2

1939 Sept 3rd  WAR DECLARED - World War 2

1.   Contents and Introduction
2.   Joan Mary Dibdin 5.  Anthony Benoit Guise 8. 1944 A Difficult Year
3 .  1939 the Start of WW2 6.  The Wedding 9. The Final Blow
4..  The Guise Family 7. 1943 and India  10 After the War

The start of the war in 1939 drew Joan into the Red Cross and the excitement of wartime London. The outbreak of war seemed to have stopped her studies. She joined the Red Cross in Marylebone, having had lunch with Max Pirani in October, no doubt to discuss the future. She went on to have lessons in Home Nursing, First Aid and anti-Gas training.

Although Joan was busy in the first year of the war at a Red Cross Post, it should be remembered that bombing of London did not occur until about September 1940. At about the same time that she started with the Red Cross, she moved from 95 Queens Gate in South Kensington to 12 Granville Place, Portman Square W1. It seems that the main activity of this first wartime blitz lasted until May 1941.

At present there is no 1940 diary, but during November Joan seems to have become quite ill and was admitted to Middlesex Hospital for a week and then on to Mount Vernon in Northwood. The general view was that she had been overdoing it. There is a letter in December 1940 from her Aunt Margaret, the Anglican Priest’s wife, who was then staying in Cumberland with her three children, having a go in somewhat oblique language at Joan’s behaviour. The hospitalisation period was in fact two months after the beginning of the first blitz in London. This lasted about 8 months and it should be noted that it was during this period that Gwen Marshall and Paul Rowntree met up in a First Aid Post in the City, near St Barthlomews, and were married within two years, but that is another story.

In April 1941 (before the cessation of bombing) Joan had asked to be released from her job but was refused by the Marylebone Medical Officer of Health on the basis that she had been a well trained member of the Casualty Services since Dec. 1939 and she was asked to continue in accordance with the Civil Defence (Employment and Offences) ( No. 2 ) Order, 1941 dated April 1st 1941. In fact a year later, on 23rd June 1942 she had a medical for the ATS and was called up on 9th July 1942.
Because she could ride a bicycle, she was volunteered into the dispatch rider corp. She worked as a motorbike courier and it is interesting that after the war, the bike licence that she acquired automatically converted itself into a full car and lorry licence.
It was within two weeks of the end of the first Blitz that Joan and Don Haycraft, her 24 years old cousin, arrived at 4 Pinfold Road – the Guise household – following up an open invitation from Anthony Guise to Don whom he met while training in Scotland. Within a couple of weeks of this visit Joan and Tony were to meet.